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Milano Musica Festival Vol 2 - Xenakis, Varese, Romitelli

Xenakis / Asko Ensemble / Asbury
Release Date: 05/10/2011 
Label:  Stradivarius   Catalog #: 33871   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Iannis XenakisEdgard VarčseFausto Romitelli
Performer:  Marieke Koster
Conductor:  Stefan Asbury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ASKO Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



XENAKIS Phlegra. Anaktoria. Dhipli Zyla. Waarg. VARÈSE Octandre. ROMITELLI Mediterraneo I & II Stefan Asbury, cond; Asko Ens; Marieke Koster (mez) STRADIVARIUS 33871 (72:34) Live: Milan 11/6/2005


GERVASONI Meta della ripa. MANZONI Ode. Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Sembianti. WEBERN Passacaglia Lothar Koenigs, cond; RAI Natl SO STRADIVARIUS 33872 (69:16) Live: Milan 11/4/2006


Thanks to the cost-cutting and absence of commercial considerations that occur as more orchestras, ensembles, artists, and in this case festivals issue their own recordings or find new outlets for them, audiences now have an increased opportunity to experience more unusual repertory, especially contemporary music. The Milan Music Festival has specialized in the latter since 1991, and these two concert recordings—Volume 2 featuring the Xenakis, Volume 3 the Gervasoni, et al.—show how they are frequently able to establish helpful thematic, stylistic, or conceptual connections between familiar and lesser-known works in their programming.


The Netherlands’s Asko Ensemble, featured in Vol. 2, has a long history of exceptional performances of 20th- and 21st-century works (see its large and impressive catalog of recordings at askoschoenberg.nl), and by anchoring its concert with Edgard Varèse’s Octandre , it focuses the listener’s attention on the variety of ways in which kindred composers Iannis Xenakis and Fausto Romitelli construct surprising tonal environments out of sometimes subtle, sometimes extravagant timbral and textural resources. The four Xenakis selections wisely reflect different periods, and thus distinct characteristics, from his career. Dhipli Zyla (1952), the earliest, is a contrapuntal dance for violin and cello, showing Bartók’s influence on the composer’s use of Greek folk material, while Phlegra (1975), for 11 instruments, suggests a Stravinsky-like rhythmic lilt and an almost slapstick humor to the ever-more-insistent harmonic disorientation. The harsh juxtaposition of colors swells and recedes in Anaktoria (1969), while the separate layers of activity in Waarg (1988), like isolated lines drawn in the air, twist and blend in the wind. Heard together, they are good preparation for Romitelli’s Mediterraneo (1992). Divided into two parts, the first sets contrasting qualities in instrumental groups against each other—sliding strings, resonating chimes, sustained wind tones—as if the sounds were reaching out from a common nucleus; the second part, including mezzo-soprano Marieke Koster’s intonation of an elliptical text by the French poet Paul Valéry, is equally dense but more compact, implying a nevertheless vague tonal center toward which the pitches are now drawn.


Though placed at the end of Vol. 3, Anton Webern’s richly textured, lyrically abstracted Passacaglia (1909) conceptually sets the stage for the music of Stefano Gervasoni and Giacomo Manzoni, whose works imaginatively reorganize the orchestra into patterns of colors rather than instrumental sections. The shimmering motives and static but evocative sonorities in Gervasoni’s Meta della ripa (2002–03) may seem reminiscent of some spectral strategies, but the fluctuating events, alternately chilly and heated, form a cohesive, gradually emerging drama. Likewise, Manzoni’s two compositions are full of shifting textures and dynamics creating dramatic tension, but obtained through unpredictable, partially indeterminate, devices. In Ode (1982), the orchestral material is divided into five “tracks” that progress horizontally in and out of sync with each other, although the blend of sounds is altogether natural and convincing. Sembianti (2003) is a kind of Enigma Variations , with parts of the composition dedicated to friends, using pitch motives derived from their names, mixing in solos from all sections of the orchestra, and inserting free rhythmic episodes—less of a storytelling enigma, however, à la Elgar, than a structural one.


Both the Asko Ensemble and the RAI National Orchestra make a strong case for the new music as well as the more familiar items they are presenting. Recommended to adventurous listeners.


FANFARE: Art Lange
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Works on This Recording

1.
Phlegra by Iannis Xenakis
Conductor:  Stefan Asbury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ASKO Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 11/06/2005 
Venue:  Sala Verdi Conservatorio "Giuseppe Verdi 
Length: 13 Minutes 2 Secs. 
2.
Octandre by Edgard Varčse
Conductor:  Stefan Asbury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ASKO Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; New York, USA 
Date of Recording: 11/06/2005 
Venue:  Sala Verdi Conservatorio "Giuseppe Verdi 
Length: 6 Minutes 48 Secs. 
3.
Mediterrano 1 & 2, for ensemble by Fausto Romitelli
Conductor:  Stefan Asbury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ASKO Ensemble
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1992 
Date of Recording: 11/06/2005 
Venue:  Sala Verdi Conservatorio "Giuseppe Verdi 
Length: 18 Minutes 41 Secs. 
4.
Anaktoria by Iannis Xenakis
Conductor:  Stefan Asbury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ASKO Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 11/06/2005 
Venue:  Sala Verdi Conservatorio "Giuseppe Verdi 
Length: 12 Minutes 26 Secs. 
5.
Dhipli Zyia, for violin & cello by Iannis Xenakis
Performer:  Marieke Koster ()
Conductor:  Stefan Asbury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ASKO Ensemble
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1952 
Date of Recording: 11/06/2005 
Venue:  Sala Verdi Conservatorio "Giuseppe Verdi 
Length: 4 Minutes 11 Secs. 
6.
Waarg by Iannis Xenakis
Conductor:  Stefan Asbury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ASKO Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988 
Date of Recording: 11/06/2005 
Venue:  Sala Verdi Conservatorio "Giuseppe Verdi 
Length: 17 Minutes 22 Secs. 

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